MARINA, Calif. (KION) It was a great day to go out on the tracks where dozens of people came out to experience a unique railway ride in Marina on Saturday, all using the power of your own arms and legs.
"Hearing that click clack sound of the rails and just being out here in nature with no exhaust, no fumes. It's just a great experience," said Mason Clark, the founder of Handcar Tours.
You may have noticed them along Del Monte Boulevard in Marina, one of more than a dozen handmade handcars parked along the train tracks. With the air blowing through your hair and the loud, steady click clack beneath you, you feel like a locomotive racing through the Transcontinental Railroad heading to wherever the great frontier takes you.
"There's only one person with the brakes, but I think that's exciting because then you all have to communicate with each other," said Tri Nguien, a Marina resident.
It is not coal powering these railway cars through the tracks, it is you. These touring handcars were designed by Santa Clarita mechanical engineer Mason Clark and his dad. It all started with Clark's passion and love for these machines at a young age.
"So, what we have here is one of our touring handcars. They hold four people and they face each other and you sit down. You operate this with both your arms and your legs. You pull this lever and then these pedals you see here, this gold and this red pedal, you push those with your legs," said Clark. "So it's a bit like a rowing machine. It's really a full body workout. You're using your full body to propel the car."
Clark actually got his degree just so he could design and build these handcars. Each one has thousands of individual parts, and every single one is hand assembled.
"Each wheel has about a hundred man hours involved in manufacturing it. All the spokes are cut by hand from wood," said Clark.
It took over two years to build this fleet of 14 handcars, and they are the only ones in the world like this.
Clark and his family leased these railroad tracks with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County until the end of September. Riders here took a one-hour, six mile journey through Marina toward Fort Ord in a balloon loop and back, with spectacular views of the ocean.
"Going fast, going slow. Hitting some hills. So it was nice," said Nguien.
"I was worried when we got here. I thought it was going to be too hard, but it wasn't," said Toni and Garth Mitchell, who are Richmond residents. "It was a good work out."
"My goal with this business is to have as many people ride our handcars and have the fun that I have, that I've been having for the past 10 years," said Clark.
And as demand increase, Clark hopes he can build more of these one-of-a-kind cruisers.
Registration for these handcar tours are going fast. For more information on how to sign up, click here.